Coteaux Champenois, Champagne’s new wave

Mercredi 07 avril 2021 par Vitisphere
Article mis à jour le 09/04/2021 12:14:36

 Long before bubbles came along, the Champagne wine region was a major producer of red wines (“clairets”), which far outnumbered white and rosé wines (“paillets”), before secondary bottle fermentation was mastered.
Long before bubbles came along, the Champagne wine region was a major producer of red wines (“clairets”), which far outnumbered white and rosé wines (“paillets”), before secondary bottle fermentation was mastered. - crédit photo : Laurie Andrès (les étudiants du CFPPA d’Avize dans le vignoble pour mettre en lumière l’AOC Coteaux Champenois)

Why all the renewed interest in Champagne still wines? For those in the front line – both the winegrowers and the houses – the uptick for Coteaux Champenois is anything but trivial. Earlier harvests and riper fruit aromatics are creating ideal conditions for making still wines. The acidity, a hallmark of Champagne wines, is still there and whilst it needs to be reined in, it mustn’t be completely erased. It follows the patterns of weather hazards and is a happy medium that has to be found and one which the “new generation” of winegrowers are buying into.

In addition to the most prominent names such as Bollinger with its ‘Côte aux Enfants’, a handful of winegrowers is committed to saving these wines and has fully grasped their quality. “My father was already making Coteaux but with white grapes, so it's not something entirely new. But my brother and I have decided to produce a red Coteaux from Meunier grapes because the crops we’re experiencing enable us to make fine wines”, explains Louise Coulon, who grows wines with her brother Edgar on the family estate in Vrigny (Montagne de Reims).

For Etienne Calsac, a winegrower in the Côte des Blancs, it is also a way of showing off his talents as a grower: “I really enjoy making still wines, it is a way of reconnecting with history and also of accessing a more transparent side to tasting, without the bubbles as a gateway”.

Another sign that Coteaux Champenois are gaining traction is that the Champagne houses, which were the first to break into the still wine market (Moet & Chandon with Château de Saran (white), Laurent-Perrier...) are showing renewed interest in the category. Recently, Roederer announced it was releasing two Coteaux Champenois (red and white) as “an opportunity of discovering another facet of the unique winemaking expertise of the family House”.

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